St Joseph's Catholic School (Matata) - 19/12/2014

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

St Joseph’s Catholic School (Matata) is an integrated Catholic school catering for students in Years 1 to 8. It is located in the coastal township Matata, north of Whakatane. At the time of this ERO review, there were 27 students on the roll, 24 of whom identify as Māori.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the school has experienced a period of difficulty resulting in a significant roll drop and the resignation of the board of trustees. In April 2013, a commissioner was appointed by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to assist the principal resolve some of the issues that the school faced, and increase the roll. The commissioner worked closely with the principal and oversaw the establishment of a new board of trustees, including an experienced chairperson. Following the election of the new board, the roll of the commissioner changed to that of a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM).

With ongoing support from the LSM, the parish community, and the steering committee, good progress has been made in restoring parent and community confidence in the school as well as addressing the areas for improvement identified in the 2012 ERO report. These related to maintaining the school roll to ensure viability, building positive relationships among board members, staff and whānau, and catering for a significant proportion of students who are achieving below expected levels.

Under the guidance of the LSM, good progress has been made in:

  • strengthening governance processes including training for trustees
  • building on the management and use of student achievement information
  • appointing a capable new teacher in the senior room
  • introducing a performance management system for the principal and teachers
  • re-establishing the school’s financial viability.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The principal and teachers use an appropriate range of externally referenced tests to identify levels of student achievement in relation to national expectations. They use this data, along with information from teacher’s observations of student learning, to make judgements about student achievement in relation to National Standards. This information shows that at the beginning of 2014, there was a significant number of students new to the school who were achieving below expected levels for their year group.

The LSM has worked with the principal to set and monitor annual targets focused on improving student achievement. The principal collates achievement information in reading, writing and mathematics that is regularly reported to the board. She uses this information to identify students needing extra help with their learning, and makes decisions about interventions to accelerate the progress for these students.

Student achievement information is recorded in individual electronic profiles. Students self-assess against the key competencies and set learning goals. Teachers use student achievement information to plan programmes of learning, and group students for instruction.

ERO and the board agree that important next steps for the principal and teachers are to make better use of student achievement information to:

  • plan more effectively to meet the learning needs of individual students
  • increase their knowledge of learning progressions in reading, writing and mathematics and share these with students
  • evaluate the effectiveness of their own teaching strategies.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning. Following consultation with the school community and input from the LSM, the principal has made a start in defining and documenting a draft St Joseph’s Catholic School (Matata) curriculum. This includes statements about the school vision, mission and values, key competencies and extensive information about how the school plans to give effect to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). It is now essential that this document is ratified, implemented and owned by the school and its community.

Aspects of the school’s curriculum that promote and support student learning are:

  • a focus on literacy and mathematical learning along with broad coverage of other curriculum areas
  • a strong priority placed on the special Catholic character
  • use of the local environment to provide relevant and meaningful contexts for learning
  • the inclusion of te reo and tikanga Māori in classrooms and school wide.

Students benefit from well-presented classroom environments that celebrate their learning and foster their sense of belonging. Teachers know students well and support them in their learning and pastoral care. ERO observed older students supporting their younger peers, and respectful relationships amongst all students. The school curriculum also provides valuable opportunities for students to experience leadership roles and responsibilities.

Teachers and students make good use of computer technology and students can express their creativity through art, music and technology. Some examples of effective teaching strategies used by teachers are:

  • high expectations that all students can experience success
  • making the purpose of learning clear to students
  • sharing assessment information with students and giving them feedback about their learning
  • revisiting and reflecting on prior learning.

Teachers now need to implement the newly developed teacher appraisal process and plan appropriate professional development to enhance their responsiveness to student’s learning needs.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori as Māori. The principal and staff strongly foster a culture where all students are able to experience success and see themselves as capable learners. Teachers value the knowledge and competencies that students bring to their own learning and constantly affirm Māori students’ culture and identity. The good quality te reo Māori programme in the junior room now needs to be extended to all students.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

While the school has made good progress in establishing a positive school culture, it still needs support to sustain and further build on improving its performance. At the time of this review, the LSM was in the process of working with the board to:

  • develop a strategic plan that clearly outlines long term school direction and development
  • improve trustees’ understanding of effective self review and extend school-wide self review processes
  • undertake further training for trustees in their roles and responsibilities as school governors
  • complete the review of policies and procedures
  • build leadership capability including overseeing the principal’s performance management.

Continuing to grow the school roll is an ongoing priority that will help ensure the future sustainability of the school. 

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Recommendation to other agencies

ERO recommends that the MoE retain the services of the LSM until early 2015 to allow the board to continue to develop its governance role.

Conclusion

St Joseph’s Catholic School is situated in Matata. It provides students with a positive school culture grounded in Catholic values and beliefs. There is now good quality teaching, and parents and whānau are warmly welcomed to be active participants in the life of the school, and in their child’s learning.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

19 December 2014

About the School

Location

Matata, Bay of Plenty

Ministry of Education profile number

1948

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

27

Gender composition

Girls 14

Boys 13

Ethnic composition

Māori 24

NZ European/Pākehā 3

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

19 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2012

Supplementary Review June 2010

Education Review July 2009